<strong>Is The New Netflix Icon a Masterpiece?</strong>

Is The New Netflix Icon a Masterpiece?

By August 15, 2016 Blog No Comments

Last month we told you about the new Instagram logo’s unintended lesson: any organization imposing a top-down cultural change that doesn’t feel fully inclusive is probably going to fail.

Recently, Netflix took our advice to heart.

The film and television streaming site that accounts for 37% of peak download traffic in North America joined Instagram as the latest in a series of A-list tech companies to give their logo a mobile-friendly makeover for the 21st century.

Don’t worry. Netflix is not dispensing with the red wordmark, whose subtle arc will continue to grace the website. The new standalone “N” is effectively their new app logo and social media avatar — the previous version had the full 7-letter wordmark crammed into the tiny square.

Unlike Instagram’s new logo announcement in May, the unveiling of the new Netflix “N” was not met with global outcry. The updated “N” is for the most part internet-approved, including such nods as “a masterpiece of ambiguity” from FastCompany.

So how did Netflix get their new app logo right?

It’s actually pretty simple. They went with a design that was sure to leave most Netflix subscribers feeling like they were still members of a community, one that despite snowball growth in both size and scope has remained tethered to a singular core mission: improving access to film and television.

Instagram tried to do this too, but stumbled. Instagram wanted their new logo to reflect the community’s increasing diversity, but in opting for a nebulous color palette and a barely recognizable glyph Instagram actually threw out one of the most unifying aspects of its brand: the beloved retro polaroid icon.

Netflix stuck to concrete visual metaphors. The striking red “N” could reference any number of cinema-related things such as a ribbon of celluloid film or an furling red carpet. The new “N” is sufficiently ambiguous for Netflix subscribers to have a diverse range of equally correct interpretations without compromising the strong visual connection between the icon and the core mission.

In other words: everyone understands the new Netflix “N” (it solves the visibility issue of the present mobile icon) and its newness does not leave anybody feeling excluded (the new ribbon effect is rooted in the brand’s core identity).

Understanding promotes connection. Connection promotes inclusivity.

If you’re in a position to drive your organization’s cultural decision making, you’ll do well to remember this.